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Oura Outlines Missing V3 Features Plan (And It’s Not Good)

Oura-Workoug-HR-Missing

When the Oura V3 launched last fall, it was met with both excitement and frustration. First, was the excitement of a new product with a slate of new features, then there was the concurrent frustration of a new pricing model that meant buying both the $300 ring hardware and a $6/month subscription fee ($60-$72/year depending on how you sign-up) for said new features (previous Oura rings didn’t have any subscription fee). Setting aside the subscription debacle for a second, the feature excitement was further tapered when we found how that basically none of the new features were available at launch – with features set to instead appear by the end of the year (2021).

That didn’t happen.

The CEO resigned. And users became frustrated with both backorder and customer support delivery times.

And as we got into 2022, the promises and timelines became more and more vague. Exactly one month ago today, I asked if there were any updated timelines at all, and the official PR response I got was:

“…the features including Workout Heart Rate and the updated Sleep Algorithm are coming this year”

Which, isn’t a terribly detailed timeline. Given that we had gone from something that was supposed to be a few weeks away, to what basically amounted to a nebulous ‘hopefully in the next year’.

The New Plan:

However, Oura has now sent out an e-mail to all users that outlines their current timelines for the three missing features. I’ve included the full e-mail at the end, but the timelines are as follows:

Workout Heart Rate: June 2022, but only for running, cycling, and walking
Blood Oxygen Levels: “Available this summer”
Sleep Staging Algorithm Update: “this fall”

Obviously, this is all pretty disappointing, for a variety of reasons. First, the fact that the workout heart rate will only work for three sports is perplexing. My assumption here is they’re trying to add more detailed activity recognition or such for those three sports, but frankly, I don’t think people care. They just want accurate HR during any workout type (currently, the sensor in Oura isn’t powered on to a level to even remotely capture workout data, it’ll often read 80-90bpm when I’m doing 160bpm. This is as expected, since they haven’t toggled the sensor to capture that yet. I detail this in my review more and Oura’s response).

I was already very concerned about how long (months or years) it would take for the company (really, any company) to get accurate workout heart rate on their first sensor. I think this only deepens that concern, since it implies they’re trying to focus on getting just three sports right. As such, that likely implies they’re having signal/noise accuracy issues that require more thought than they assumed.

Oura’s e-mail notes the range of things they’re looking at (which, is the same as any other company…except trying to do it on the finger):

“Ensuring Workout Heart Rate meets our high standards and works well across a range of physical factors, environments, temperatures, and activities has been of utmost importance, and we’re happy to report that our science and technology teams are now in the final stages of development and testing. Your heart rate is a key indicator of workout intensity, and Oura’s insights not only help you understand how hard you’ve pushed yourself, but also the relationship between your Readiness Score and workout heart rate.“

Next, there’s blood oxygen levels. Their focus here is nightly sleep levels, as noted in the e-mail when they say:

“….we’ve been hard at work developing our Blood Oxygen sensing feature. Understanding variations in your overnight blood oxygen level, a measure of how well your body circulates and absorbs oxygen, will help you get an even more enhanced read on the quality of your nightly rest. Today, we are happy to update you that Blood Oxygen sensing will be available this summer.”

Measuring at sleep is logical, and what most focus is on these days. But there’s no clarity here on whether we’re talking June or the end of September (both of which are summer, as summer goes till Sept 23rd in many countries).

Which, I suppose is better than the ‘fall’ for the updated sleep algorithm. Now ironically, I actually agree with this. The whole concept of Oura touting a new sleep algorithm always seemed odd to me. Arguably, the single thing that Oura does right and better than anyone else is sleep. And while many can argue about sleep stages/phases, frankly, even many higher-end sleep-focused devices are fairly inaccurate in this area compared to the accuracy standards we’d expect in other medical/fitness realms. So honestly, I’m fine with this being pushed.

“And finally, furthering our commitment to deliver the best sleep tracking experience, we’ll also be launching an update to our Sleep Staging algorithm this autumn.”

Again, Autumn technically runs till December 21st, so basically it might be done by Christmas. Which, again, I think is actually good. Yes, improving your algorithms is always a goal, but don’t fix what isn’t broken – especially when you have a huge pile of legit broke/unfinished things to do first.

Now it’s worth noting that back in November/December, Oura announced that they’d defer the subscription fee for 6-months, effectively putting everyone on a 6-month trial (though, you still paid $300+ for the V3 hardware).  Given these timelines clearly put people well past that 6-month period for the core new features that were promised, I’d hope that Oura re-extends that out to 12 months. And similarly, I’d be super frustrated if I were a legacy Oura user that paid to upgrade to the V3 hardware, only to have virtually none of it leveraged.

The Full E-mail:

Here’s a copy of the e-mail in full, titled “Upcoming Enhancements to Your Oura Ring Experience”:

“Dear Oura Member,

Today, we are excited to share an update with you about upcoming Oura features: Workout Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen (SpO2) Sensing, and an enhanced Sleep Staging algorithm.

 

We’re happy to announce that Workout Heart Rate tracking for running, cycling, and walking will be released in June 2022, with more workouts to be added throughout the year. We know this feature has been important to our community, and we’re eager to deliver a compelling, high quality experience very soon. Ensuring Workout Heart Rate meets our high standards and works well across a range of physical factors, environments, temperatures, and activities has been of utmost importance, and we’re happy to report that our science and technology teams are now in the final stages of development and testing. Your heart rate is a key indicator of workout intensity, and Oura’s insights not only help you understand how hard you’ve pushed yourself, but also the relationship between your Readiness Score and workout heart rate.

 

When it comes to sleep, we’re proud that Oura delivers one of the most comprehensive and accurate data sets of any consumer wearable on the market, and continuing to build on this strong foundation is a priority for Oura. For this reason, we’ve been hard at work developing our Blood Oxygen sensing feature. Understanding variations in your overnight blood oxygen level, a measure of how well your body circulates and absorbs oxygen, will help you get an even more enhanced read on the quality of your nightly rest. Today, we are happy to update you that Blood Oxygen sensing will be available this summer.

 

And finally, furthering our commitment to deliver the best sleep tracking experience, we’ll also be launching an update to our Sleep Staging algorithm this autumn.

 

We hope this update is a helpful glimpse into the roadmap ahead. We are committed to continuing to add enhancements and innovations to your experience and more value to your membership. Thank you for being a part of our community and making Oura a part of your health and wellness journey.

 

In good health,
The Oura team”

With that, I guess I’ll next check-in sometime this summer. Though, my wife bought a V3 ring, and has been testing out the period tracking features since early January (on iOS, it’s still not on Android – apparently coming in May there), so perhaps we’ll check-in before then (which, is really the single new meaningful feature on V3).

With that, thanks for reading!

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29 Comments

  1. Nate Jones

    With regard to sleep, the gold standard is the polysomnograph. Are you suggesting, that these devices are not accurate? Or, are you referring to other consumer-grade sleep monitors? Thanks.

    • I’m primarily referring to sleep semi-medical monitors that are bridging the divide between full-on PSG level and consumers something like Dreem, which basically tops out in the low 80% range, accuracy-wise*. Good point though, that sentence was unclear – clarified.

      Which, I find funny that we’d look at that as all that useful. That means 20% of the night it’s simply wrong. I can’t imagine we’d ever accept a HR sensor or power meter being wrong 20% of the workout. We get upset when it’s wrong for a few seconds.

      *https://www.neurologylive.com/view/dreem-headband-eeg-device-accurately-monitors-sleep-processes-sleep-stages

    • important to highlight that this is a sleep staging problem, even regardless of technology

      if you were to get polysomnography (PSG) in the lab, and have two annotators (people) label your sleep stages, they’d agree maybe 80% of the time (often less: link to researchgate.net or: link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

      when trying to estimate stages automatically, using autonomic nervous system activity data is certainly limited with respect to using brain activity and other signals (EOG, EMG), despite the decent results we showed last year (79%: link to t.co)

      however, to reiterate on the first point, the issue is really in the whole concept of sleep staging, more than a technology issue: even if you get a PSG, due to the nature of the reference (i.e. someone subjectively annotating your data or yet another algorithm with a margin of error), there will always be error due to how sleep stages are defined

      anyways, just wanted to provide some context to the whole problem, this is a field where 30 seconds epochs are used because that’s how much EEG would fit in an A4 ages ago 🙂

    • Michael Ballard

      If you read the link you provided, and the article referenced, it’s not saying that Dreem is only 80% accurate. To be “accurate” one has to compare to ground truth, and in sleep science, a true ground truth doesn’t exist. In fact, the article (and others) shows there is only ~86% agreement among sleep experts’ manual scoring polysomnograms (the gold standard). Meaning even experts disagree on ~15% of the time we spend asleep (including whether we are asleep or in restful wakefulness; and this number drops in patient populations with fragmented sleep).
      Thus, without irrefutable ground truth, it remains possible that AI-powered EEG monitors are even better than the eyes of experts. That’s not necessarily my position, but the reality is we can’t be sure.

    • Megan

      At least you received a response from them…I have had an open customer support ticket since November 2021. Mine had issues tracking accurate sleep times. Awful customer service. Started three new tickets trying to get a response…all closed, November case still not responded to, or resolved. Super disappointed…especially since it was apparent they were spending exorbitant dollars on marketing. I was an early adopter and loved the product. Would not recommend purchasing any Oura product until they get dev roadmap/R&D, and customer service under control.

  2. Alan Bombria

    I had one for three days. Sent that junk right back. Doesn’t do what it claims and the app absolutely sucks. $450 with tax and shipping for a device that pretty much tells you nothing is a ridiculous fraud.

  3. Stan

    Oura looked promising at the start but with all the features still not added and subscription I don’t think they will survive for long with such approach unless investors splurge up again to allow them to continue.

  4. Andrew

    Great content as always. Just a note that looing, should be looking in the article.

  5. Andy

    Hope Oura comes through as the competition is getting heated with Circular coming out with their ring that also does Spo2 and activity tracking in addition to sleep and others.
    link to circular.xyz

  6. John

    I did check the date of the mail. It wasn’t April Fools day unfortunately. I have had all three gens and still believe in the company but this was disappointing.

  7. Dawn

    Looks like I made the right decision in not buying it! Given the amount of advertising for it on Facebook, it seems like they spent more money on adverts than on R&D!

  8. Ian S

    Difficult to think of a customer segment that Oura hasn’t alienated at this point. The subscription model took away their main competitive differentiator, the bodged launch where support utterly collapsed, hooking existing customers into a 2 week timeboxed upgrade window and then not delivering on any of the promises that made people upgrade.

    Genuinely hard to see how the company can come back from the deep hole they’ve dug.

  9. Patrick

    Does this company make anyone else think of Theranos?

  10. youpmelone

    Don’t get why people get their nickers in a twist.
    If you want to measure hr during activities, then use a polar h10, gold standard.

    All sleep tracking via wearables is off, way off.

    Where our a is good, is HRV tracking during the night, and that is the sole reason to use it. Breathing rate and temp are a nice bonus. Anything else is not scientifically verified and sucks as much as any other wearable (though this is about the only aea where whoop is marginally better)

    • Peter^

      Agree with this, but it effectively means that almost all of Gen 3 Oura features are not useful. In my view Oura Gen 2 was a great product, Gen 3 is effectively the same product.

      But it is hard to convince people to buy your new product if they think Gen2 is just as good, so after convincing people that the new features are great, now the nickers are in a twist when these features are not delivered.

  11. Mason Aldridge

    These small batteries will last about a year or two before noticeable degradation. Our warranty amd 6 month free subscription will run out before the promised features come out. A good amount of people will have to replace or exchange their ring before or around then. It’s a bummer

    • Chris Bellevie

      This is one of my biggest issues with Oura 3 now. If I was coming from Oura 2 and had a free lifetime subscription, I would be more ok with this, but I’m not. I came on board with the expectation of a bunch of things that haven’t materialize, whether I even would use is beside the point, with a looming subscription and a device that will be a year old and out of warranty before some of those features are expected to ship.

      I have noted that I can no longer find anything about the subscription in the app. I thought previously the remaining time for the free subscription was listed in the app, but I cannot find this anywhere.

  12. Marco Soldano

    It is astonishing that we paid for new hardware to support new features, and one year after we still have no access to ANY of those features.
    Did not know about the CEO resigned. Doesn’t sound promising.

  13. Stefan Gutehall

    At first, I got excited when I saw Oura was releasing new hardware, then I thought – nothing special in terms of new features, why should I upgrade? Then .. subscription? I’ll use my 2nd gen until it dies and can’t see any reason to buy it again! That said, I mainly, but not exclusively use my OURA ring to collect HR/HRV and sleep data that I export to HRV4 Training, so the upgrade was probably not aimed for my user case.

  14. Art. P

    I like Ray’s consistency and adherence to the same sneaker – It’s DS trainer 26. Just curious, what was the number for the your first DS trainer pair?

  15. Brandon

    I’m truly not surprised as I’ve had a number of teeeivkr experience with their customer service in the time I’ve been a customer. Beyond that I’m curious what other folks are seeing their readiness scores. Mine doesn’t change by more then a few points each day. Even if my hrv and sleep time are dramatically different my readiness remains mostly unchanged. This is in stark contrast to my whoop, Fenix 6 and Athlytic app on my Apple Watch 7 witch all show some significant recovery fluctuation.

  16. Michael

    Does anyone ever questions the sanity of this endless fitness gadgetry that people are spending tons of money on, tons of time on figuring out how to use it and why it does not work, etc. etc.
    The data is good to have if one knows exactly how to interpret it, what direction to take after it was collected and analyzed. I other words you really have to be a professional, and even not all professionals are are the same. And what exactly is the goal.
    Many years ago I was lucky to ride together with one of the best pro cyclists US ever had, if not the best.
    While we were riding he kept asking me how many miles we rode. He did not even have cycle computer, just a watch. That year winning LBL and 4th place in TDF followed, never mind 1st in Tour of Romandie.
    Alejandro Valverde does not use much the latest gadgetry I understand, he is just on his bike a lot. No Oura rings I am sure.
    And we weekend warriors spending time fighting newest tech instead of just riding (running, swimming).

  17. Lee Fox

    I would love to see Garmin step in and purchase them. I have the Gen2 ring and the sleep data seems spot on, but hate having two separate apps for health and fitness, also hate wearing a watch to bed, which is why the ring in great. Being able to take off my 945 and only wear the ring to bed AND having all that info in one place would be fantastic.

  18. Bradley Tipp

    link to frontofficesports.com

    Well, we may not like it, but the market does.

    • Chris

      I can’t complain too much about Oura. Ordering was easy and fast (8 days from ordering the sizing kit to receiving the ring) and it does what they told me it would do atm. And it does tracking sleep much better than my 800€ Garmin Epix which tells me I had 10 mins. of deep sleep and 2h awake time every night (which is apparently not true) like it does for many other users, complaining in the Garmin forum about the sleep tracking algorithms since they changed them around December/January 2021.

  19. sfdsfsqs

    It’s weird how you never call out Garmin for not enabling features on current editions of its watches that a new watch gets, and they “hint” they “might” enable.

    Where’s the enhanced sleep tracking widget on any watch except the Fenix, which you said was coming to other watches?

    Answer: in the next generation of Garmin watches, because they are so desperate to manufacture reasons to buy newer models.

    • Sigh, as I posted to your other rambling angry comments this morning – no, you’re simply wrong.

      A) First off, I call Garmin out constantly for things. You just have selective reading skills.
      B) Second, they added the sleep tracking widget to plenty of watches over the last two years, including older watches at the time like all of the Fenix 6 lineup, the Forerunner 745, the FR945, and countless variants of the Fenix 6 unit (aviation/marine/etc). Also, they’ve added it to all new watches since then too like the Venu 2, Venu 2 Plus, Instinct 2 series, Tactix, and on and on. So yes, Garmin said it was coming to other watches, and it did. Seems simple to me.
      C) Ultimately, what I wrote about Oura has nothing to do with Garmin. Because Garmin didn’t promise a slate of new features for a product, and then ship said product without new features. Which, is exactly what Oura.

      In other words, in your lust this morning to get angry about a Garmin sleep widget by finding every sleep post you can on this site, you missed the point of this post (and the others).

      Cheers!